The Louisiana Legislature accomplished "a lot" this year, State Rep. Gary Smith said in a report to the St. Charles Rotary Club, including:
- Banning the sale of violent video games to children.
- Instructing district attornies to "smack down" companies that hire illegal aliens.
- Raising teacher salaries.
And the legislature got down to brass tacks on money issues, too.
Right after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the state was in the red financially, he said - but now, with rebuilding going on at a fever pitch, and gas prices up, propping up the oil economy, the state has a surplus.
“We passed a $26.7 billion operation budget, much higher than the $18.6 billion budget last year,” he pointed out. About $8 billion of that, however, comes from federal funds.
The legislature also:
• Paved the way for the Louisiana Recovery Authority's "Road Home Project" to provide $8.1 billion for rebuilding homes, with homeowners getting up to $150,000 each.
• Changed requirements for nursing homes. Now, the homes must file evacuation plans 60 days before hurricane seasons.
• Passed legislation regulating insurance companies and coverage. Property owners and other citizens now have two years to file claims instead of just one. The legislature also tightened laws on adjusters.
• OK'd the display of the 10 Commandments in public settings if they are part of an historical display.
• Banned abortions with the exception of cases in which the mother’s life or health is endangered. The law, however, doesn't take effect unless Congress or the U. S. Supreme Court reverses the Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortions.
• Passed 21 constitutional amendments and put them up for approval by voters in elections. Among them: proposals to dedicate new funds from offshore oil royalties to coastal restoration in Louisiana
• Prohibited the expropriation of property (by governmental agencies) for private use.
• Established that levee districts in the New Orleans area will be consolidated - one on the east bank and one of the west bank. But the districts in St. Charles Parish will remain in the Pontchartrain and Lafourche Levee Districts, which Smith called "the two best levee districts in the state."
|Photo: Allen Lottinger|
|Gary Smith spoke about teacher salaries and illegal aliens at the last rotary meeting.|